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Kharbash calls for a Free Trade Agreement with US to boost business relationships

AMEInfo, United Arab Emirates

19 September 2004

Kharbash calls for a Free Trade Agreement with US to boost business relationships

H.E. Dr. Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, UAE Minister of Finance and Industry today called for a fully-fledged Free Trade Agreement between the UAE and the United States of America.

He was addressing the American Business Council in Dubai.

’It goes without saying that the signing of a fully-fledged Free Trade Agreement in the fullness of time will constitute a significant milestone in our efforts to drive forward economic progress here. It is our hope that this will lead to the introduction of an even greater number of vibrant American businesses to our shores, and increased UAE business in your country,’ said Dr. Kharbash in his opening remarks.

’The ties between our countries have been consistently characterized by a mutual willingness to cooperate and develop our cordial relationship. The American model of hard work, economic prosperity and entrepreneurship is one that we aspire to here in the UAE,’ said Dr. Kharbash in his opening remarks.

The UAE has held strong ties with the USA during the past three decades and with the amount of trade possibilities that both countries are benefiting from, it is crucial to strengthen the relationship by laying down new prospects of great opportunities for business. The UAE has consistently ranked among the USA’s top 10 trading partners in terms of trade balance and American exports to the UAE - excluding defense - totaled more than $3 billion at the last count. Moreover, the US enjoys market share of 45% in oil and gas equipment, and 28% of imports of medical equipment and supplies.

Phil Garrison, American Business Council President, said:’ We are very excited about the progress of this treaty. The sole mission of the American Business Council of Dubai and the northern Emirates is to promote trade between the United States and the UAE. Our membership is made up of private sector companies of all sizes from many different industries and we believe the treaty will benefit the entire UAE/UA business community. We look forward to the benefits it will bring to the business communities of both countries.’

The presence of over 500 American companies in the UAE results in the exporting and investment of other companies in a business-friendly yet competitive market. ’It must be clear, therefore, that the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement our countries signed earlier this year is absolutely crucial in defining the future of economic relations and trade between the US and the UAE,’ noted Dr. Kharbash.

’When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and I put our signatures to this agreement in Washington earlier this year, the joint council we created meant a new and vital forum for discussion of mutual trade and investment had been put in place,’ he added.

UAE’s policies of openness and cooperation earned it its leading position today. The UAE has long upheld the concept of a liberal economy and an open and free trading environment. Strong blue chip presence like IBM, Citigroup, Microsoft, Visa International, General Electric, Cisco Systems, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo, McDermott, and Halliburton all have regional offices based in the UAE.

The UAE’s strategic location, political stability, growing economy and its world-class infrastructure all contribute to the success of the partnership with the USA. This agreement would not be the final goal of any type of cooperation between the US and UAE. Hopes of further ties in other sectors and mutual exchange of commercial activities is an extended aim of the two countries.